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Wildfire Provisions of ‘Budget Bill Junior’

The bills contain appropriation items related to health and human services, education and wildfire funding

By Chris Micheli, April 9, 2021 10:42 am

By Chris Micheli

On April 8, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) amended his Assembly Bill 79 to be authored by the Committee on Budget to amend the Budget Act of 2020 and the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee amended its Senate Bill 85 to make the same changes. These measures are known as a “Budget Bill Junior.”

AB 79 and SB 85 would make numerous changes to items of appropriation relating to the state budget. It is expected to be voted on this Monday and would take effect immediately upon chaptering. The bills contain items of appropriation related to health and human services, education and wildfire funding.

Section One of the bills would add Item 0509-112-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, for $16 million to the Climate Catalyst Revolving Loan Fund.

Section Two of the bills would add Item 0650-101-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, for $3 million to the Office of Planning and Research for local assistance, State Planning and Policy Development with the following provisions: The funds appropriated in this item are available for support or local assistance and shall be used to (a) develop a framework for the state’s wood utilization policies and priorities, (b) support new long-term wood feedstock pilot projects, (c) spur innovation in the wood sector, (d) partner with the IBank to develop a focused market strategy, and (e) complete a statewide wood products workforce assessment.

In addition, these funds are available for expenditure or encumbrance until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount appropriated in this item may be used for administrative costs.

Section Three of the bills would amend Item 0690-101-0001 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020 to increase the amount for local assistance in the Office of Emergency Services for Special Programs and Grant Management by $32 million. It would contain the following provision: Of the amount appropriated in Schedule (2), $21,924,000 shall be available to the Office of Emergency Services for the purposes of establishing a financial assistance program to help low-income and disadvantaged homeowners, as defined by program guidelines, and implement structure hardening, as defined in Section 8654.3 of the Government Code, as part of a community-wide home hardening program or effort.

In addition, this funding is available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of this amount may be used for administrative support costs.

Section Four of the bills would add Item 3125-001-0001 is added to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, to provide $1 million for support of the California Tahoe Conservancy. It would have the following provision: The funds appropriated in this item shall be available for support or local assistance, and shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025.

Section Five of the bills would add Item 3480-101-0001 Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, to provide $50 million for local assistance in the Department of Conservation for Land Resource Protection. The following provisions would apply: The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. The Department of Conservation is exempted from any applicable provision of law requiring competitive bidding and the supervision or approval of another department or agency of state government, with the exception of the Department of General Services.

In addition, this exemption is limited to the procurement of or contracting with vendors for forest health, fire prevention, fuels reduction, vegetation management, or environmental review, for fire prevention or post fire vegetation restoration projects funded from the amount appropriated in this item. Note more than 5 percent of this amount may be used for administrative support costs.

Section Six of the bills would amend Item 3540-001-0001 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of to provide just over $5.1 million to CalFire for Fire Protection and $120 million for Resource Management. The following provisions would apply: $5 million of the funds appropriated for fire prevention and forest health purposes would be prohibited from being redirected for purposes of emergency fire suppression and detection costs.

In addition, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is exempted from any applicable provision of law requiring competitive bidding and the supervision or approval of another department or agency of state government, with the exception of the Department of General Services. This exemption is limited to the procurement of or contracting with vendors for forest health, fire prevention, fuels reduction, vegetation management, or environmental review, for fire prevention or post fire vegetation restoration projects funded from the amounts specified.

$73 million is for the Fire Prevention Grants program. This funding shall be available to benefit communities throughout the state regardless of vegetation type or types found within a project area. The funding shall be awarded using criteria that maintains fire risk severity as the primary factor, and then prioritizes projects that protect a larger population base or number of structures relative to the size of the grant.

In addition, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall conduct outreach to potential grant applicants in areas of the state that have historically had a low application or participation rate in the Fire Prevention Grants program. No later than February 1, 2022, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall report to the Legislature by county on the number and dollar amount of applications received and grants awarded pursuant to the Fire Prevention Grants program.

Section Seven of the bills would amend Item 3540-003-3228 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020 to delete the provision that “of the funds appropriated in this item (which is in support of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection for Resource Management), CalFire shall only expend funds on payroll and payroll associated costs.”

Section Eight of the bills would add Item 3540-101-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $96 million to CalFire for local assistance in Resource Management. The provision would specify that the amount available in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2023, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025.

Section Nine of the bills would add Item 3540-101-3228 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate over $125 million to CalFire for local assistance from the GGRF for Resource Management. The following provisions would apply: The funds appropriated in this item shall be used consistent with subdivision (a) of Section 45 of Chapter 626 of the Statutes of 2018 (SB 901).

In addition, of the amount appropriated in this item, $50,000,000 is for the Fire Prevention Grants program. This funding shall be available to benefit communities throughout the state regardless of vegetation type or types found within a project area. The funding shall be awarded using criteria that maintains fire risk severity as the primary factor and then prioritizes projects that protect a larger population base or number of structures relative to the size of the grant.

Moreover, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall conduct outreach to potential grant applicants in areas of the state that have historically had a low application or participation rate in the Fire Prevention Grants program. No later than February 1, 2022, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shall report to the Legislature by county on the number and dollar amount of applications received and grants awarded pursuant to the Fire Prevention Grants program.

Section Ten of the bills would add Item 3600-005-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $15 million for support of the Department of Fish and Wildfire for Biodiversity Conservation Program. The following provisions would apply: The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025.

In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is exempted from any applicable provision of law requiring competitive bidding and the supervision or approval of another department or agency of state government, with the exception of the Department of General Services. This exemption is limited to the procurement of or contracting with vendors for forest health, fire prevention, fuels reduction, vegetation management, or environmental review, for fire prevention or post fire vegetation restoration projects funded from the amount appropriated in this item.

Section Eleven of the bills would add Item 3760-102-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $12 million for support of the State Coastal Conservancy for Conservancy Programs.  The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount available in this item may be used for administration support costs.

Section Twelve of the bills would add Item 3790-003-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $15 million for support of the Department of Parks and Recreation. The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025.

In addition, the Department of Parks and Recreation is exempted from any applicable provision of law requiring competitive bidding and the supervision or approval of another department or agency of state government, with the exception of the Department of General Services. This exemption is limited to the procurement of or contracting with vendors for forest health, fire prevention, fuels reduction, vegetation management, or environmental review, for fire prevention or post fire vegetation restoration projects funded from the amount appropriated in this item.

Section Thirteen of the bill would add Item 03810-102-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $12 million for support of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount available in this item may be used for administration support costs.

Section Fourteen of the bills would add Item 3825-102-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $12 million for support of the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount available in this item may be used for administration support costs.

Section Fifteen of the bills would add Item 3845-102-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $12 million for support of the San Diego River Conservancy.  The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount available in this item may be used for administration support costs.

Section Sixteen of the bills would add Item 3845-102-0001 to Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020, which would appropriate $20 million for support of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.  The amount appropriated in this item shall be available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2022, and for liquidation until June 30, 2025. Not more than 5 percent of the amount available in this item may be used for administration support costs.

Section Seventeen of the bills would amend Item 4700-490 of Section 2.00 of the Budget Act of 2020 dealing with reappropriation of funds at the Department of Community Services and Development and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds. $750,000 of the unexpended balance of that item shall be used for the purpose of state operations, including personal services and operating expenses and equipment.

These bills will be heard April 12 in the Budget Committees and then on the Floors of the Senate and Assembly.

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